(by Joe Oliver, The People)
October 3, 2002
Glentoran football club have been plunged into a new scandal after fans hurled racist abuse at a young Portuguese player during last week's 'Big Two' match in Belfast.
Miguel Chines, 22, was targeted by hate mongers even BEFORE the game began. Thugs threw bananas onto the pitch as he and his team-mates warmed up. They continued to heckle him during the match and their hatred reached fever pitch when he was substituted early in the second-half.
The ugly scenes - in the wake of the Neil Lennon death threat saga - cry out for swift and decisive action to force clubs to deal with offending fans. But amazingly the IFA and Irish League have no firm policy on race-related abuse.
One lifelong Glentoran fan told us: "I was ashamed to be wearing the scarf and gutted that nothing was done to stop these thugs.
"Everyone knows sectarianism is rife in the game, but you can now add racism to the goals-against column."
Linfield signed Miguel at the start of the year after he was discovered by the club's chief scout Jim Emery playing for a local club in Dungannon. The Mozambique-born player is now a firm favourite with Blues fans.
Linfield boss David Jeffrey said: "The bottom line is that racism like sectarianism is part of our society. I abhor it."
He added: "I would not attach any blame to Glentoran. The security they provided for Tuesday's game was excellent.
"As for those involved in the abuse, they are just sad, sick and pathetic."
East Belfast club Glentoran are already reeling from the Irish League's savage sentence for playing a player who was not properly registered. The League deducted 12 Premiership points from the club last week and also imposed a £7,000 fine. The club's media officer Alex McWilliams said: "Glentoran do not tolerate racist behaviour.
"I would also point out that our genuine supporters remonstrated with the culprits who were throwing bananas.
"We would never condone racism. Indeed, one of our own players, Nevin Riches, has been suffered this type of verbal abuse.
"Our message to people who indulge in such abuse is simple. We don't want them at the Oval."
Most Irish League clubs have readily adopted the IFA slogan: Give Sectarianism the Boot. League president Jim Semple said yesterday: "To be honest, it's the first time I have heard of racism raising its ugly head.
"We don't have assessors at matches but I'm sure the referee will deal with the matter in his report."
IFA spokesman John Quinn said: "We have made our views known on sectarianism and the rules and objectives of our governing body FIFA would not tolerate racism in any shape or form."
This article appeared in the September 29, 2002 edition of the The People.